Spring is here

Horticulture Hints

With the arrival of spring – are you ready to garden? Although you may be ready to start work in the garden, the soil is not. Soil temps need to rise and the excess soil moisture needs time to dry. So before jumping into your garden boots and grabbing the hoe, take advantage of the waiting time to get yourself and your garden prepared. A little patience and planning work now will save time later when the garden is right for planting.

If you have not done so already, now is a good time to cut back ornamental grasses to get them ready for the spring growth. Leaving the old growth in place serves to insulate roots which slows soil warm up, and delays appearance of the new growth.

End of March is also the time to clean out bluebird houses and trim back clematis to about 8 inches, if your vine is the type that produces blooms on the new season’s growth.

Place the disease free plant trimmings on your compost pile. With the warmer weather on the way, your pile will soon be working again. You can encourage this by turning the pile and keeping it active.

Check your hoses to make sure they are in good working order and do not leak. Hoses may need new washers to keep them from leaking. Clean out water wand nozzles and lawn sprinklers to unplug them.

Did you know? If you have saved left over seeds from last season, now is a good time to discover their germination rate before the planting season begins. Place ten seeds between moist paper towels and place in a plastic bag in a warm location in the kitchen.

Examine seeds every two or three days for sprouting, and remember, different seeds take different amounts of time to germinate. See https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/1999/4-2-1999/veggielife.html for a chart of vegetable seed life expectancy. If seeds have a less than 70 percent germination rate, consider buying new seed.

Horticulture Questions? Contact McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu for information or advice.